Spring 2019, Volume 26

Poetry by Rich Ives

No More Apologies to Inanimate Objects

He had the same frequency as pounded silver and would have made a fine bracelet. This was the way she thought in those days.

The opportunities of his ear were unpredictable, and he did not know this.

Burn down how they were able to understand each other with the help of their authentic ignorance. Burn down so much old-fashioned talk I cracked the old-fashioned telephone.

Burn down how it seemed to have been an erotic dream, and she was pleasantly stimulated by that thought until she wondered about the rug-burns on her knees. She was at the age when you become someone else, and for a while you don’t know who you are, and that excites you. Burn that down. She wasn’t even there.

In the streets below the waterfront warehouses you could always find a little dangerous soup. Burn down romanticism. Burn down escape.

Burn down feathers tied to merely imagination. Burn down how much terror sits in a chair, how much pain begins dancing. Burn down torn wallpaper and herds of cigarettes. (He didn’t seem to know why he had taken apart the ashtray. Actually, he didn’t know why he even had an ashtray since he didn’t smoke and no one who ever visited him smoked either.)

Burn down Lonely-Man-Fell-Off-the-Wagon. Burn down splayed toes and a Chaplin nose. Take with it the swaying in the heart of the brilliant poet’s autistic child. Burn down the pendulum in the Kansas Room that won’t stop for explanations or parenthetical footnotes.

After you’ve finished, you can boil onions, read haiku to Trixie because a goldfish would understand this with a lot of useless time between to find its own way to just stay there, but if there’s too much time between, you might not need to come out, and the air that moves in will still be friendly, but if someone steals the time, it could rot.

Sometimes it’s not easy to keep warm behind time’s teeth, and the cold night says Good Oven to the sun in gratitude for the pebble we live on, resting in its accepting mouth. The way you made love was instinctive and honest, but you forgot everything except explanations when you wrote about what happened. The world knows more than I do,
but lets me play with the next little piece of the puzzle as if it were the one that completed the picture, and today I’m not out in the rain again, but the rain is out in me, and I’m feeling sorry for the pillow’s damp acceptance, which should get me far enough to have something to come back from that I never come back from.

I should just get over it, I’m thinking from under it, where it’s deep and all mine, even though I think I don’t want it, and my city of Warsaw’s back again in only a small part of its total days, but burn that down.

Even a useless man accomplishes a certain amount of thinking, like a vehicle that demonstrates the real beauty of its engine only without a driver. It’s a thing to be admired without speaking. It’s hard to believe so much of yourself has already happened. Burn down the rest with surprises. It should be easier with misunderstandings. It should be easier with all the forgetting. Burn down the forgetting.

I Could Be Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

Because I spoke so seldom, I sounded angry when the words finally escaped. I was not mean, just cold. And suggestive of ungrateful things to say. (see gradient excess, see candling, see some things were burning that shouldn’t have been)

Elastic Man wraps his leg around his leg. He walks like that. He talks like that. He doesn’t go anywhere but home. He glues Snickers wrappers together for placemats.

Is there something acceptable about the silence we try to fill?

Mice are nesting in the dead furnace. I’m thumbing the little peek-hole in the door. I’m listening for departures. I don’t need a reason. I need an answer.

If more than three people agree, only one of them is right.

I find out something about jokes. I take it to the vegetables and laugh. It is a perception of brown leaves. It is inedible if I am what happens to you.

Elastic Man finds himself stuck to the wrong apple. No knowledge appears. He waits for thunder. He wraps himself around the possibility of thunder. No thunder.

If four people disagree, they could all be right. (see reality visitation, see distension of verbal appendages)

Elastic Man does one thing, does another, but another is the same thing. How do you get anything done without stretching?

My compass made of electrical stones agrees with no one. I go there to find a good talking to, but no one is silent. I didn’t have to read the same paperbacks the mice had been reading. The best lies are the ones everyone knows are lies and work anyway.

There are a few more guidelines contained in the episodes, but the episodes are not contained in the guidelines. (see light of a carpeted tree used for witnessing curls)

Elastic Man did not realize that the speed at which rock passes through flesh cannot be achieved without the assistance of mechanical devices, but trauma to the body does not require passage, only sufficient embrace. Everywhere here, he appears as if to sing in a train, continual and rising toward a center. More flexible than smoke, it takes an insect sip of melt to arrive at such a tenor; open, tall and next to himself. (see sawmill tuning, see calico tuning, see the difference between a jig and a strathspey for example)

Could you be certain of one thing, any thing? Could you be greasing the appreciative palm of any departure? Could you be blind? Could you see why you aren’t?

Some of the smaller pianos, known in common parlance as conclusions, is caught in the air between notes and cannot be released except by silence, which is the contemplation of details that no longer remain.




BIO: Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. He is the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press—poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York—fiction chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking—What Books) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press—hybrid).